9th Graders Learn and Teach About Global Hunger

Morgan Boerman teaches science at OnTECH Charter High School in Syracuse, New York. In February 2021, she participated in the Global Learning in Agriculture conference where she learned about Growing Hope Globally’s SAE for All curriculum focused on international agricultural development. “They did a wonderful job of putting this together”, said Boerman, “I am a pretty big critic on this topic because of my background in international agriculture, but it is a really wonderful tool kit for students to do an exploratory SAE. I think it is going to be a really fantastic opportunity.”

She decided to use the curriculum right away and invited her colleagues who taught English and Global classes to join her in facilitating a cross curricular project for all of their 9th grade students at the end of the year. Boerman was excited that the curriculum could easily be used by busy teachers who lack the time to meet together and write cross-curricular lessons from scratch. “If you have a teacher that you’ve been wanting to work with cross-curricularly and haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet, I would highly suggest using this global food security curriculum because its already made.”

Each student chose a country to research from among those where Growing Hope Globally supports food security programs. In Boerman’s science class, students learned about global hunger through Growing Hope’s Global Farmer Experience as well as the book Hungry Planet. Then they studied what people eat, starting with a look at nutrition and then considering the nutrition of the staple foods we eat in the U.S. and those that people in their chosen country eat.

In their English class, students wrote short fictional stories about a day in the life of someone in their selected country. They also wrote letters of support for a local community garden initiative to the founder of the school.

In their Global class, students learned international development vocabulary and researched what the Growing Hope Globally programs in their selected countries were actually doing. They also did demographic research for their selected country.

The culmination of all of their learning was a science fair style event where students presented what they had learned about their chosen Growing Hope Globally program and country using either trifold poster boards or PowerPoint. Half of the students presented and half listened, and then they switched. Then the students voted on which countries they would want to support. The head of the school pledged to make a $10 donation to the winning programs on behalf of each student who participated.

“My students have never done anything like this before”, said Boerman, “When we showed them the trifolds they said ‘Oh, it’s like what you see in the movies in science fairs.’ The students were super pumped and really nervous.” The students were allowed to work with a partner if they wanted to. While it eased their nerves, it also resulted in some rather unique country combinations, such as the winning poster board featuring Colombia and Zimbabwe.

Growing Hope Globally President Max Finberg joined the event to share more about the organization and present the winners. Juila Rottman Smith also attended, sharing about the nearby Ithaca New York Growing Project.

“The students loved it!”, said Boerman, “One student had been MIA from school for about three fourths of the year. When he finally came back to school, he had some anxiety and didn’t really want to be back. He won [the competition] when we had about two weeks left of the school year and then he said he didn’t want to leave. It was a really great way for the kids to come out of their shells”.

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